Monday, January 17, 2011

Beautiful Mind

sniffing old books in my studio

shot by Hazel Kahanding December 2010

I have a terrible memory.
And then, at other times, my memory is exceptional, lauded, in some cases.

The other day it was pouring rain and I was walking up these carpeted stairs and smelled a very familiar scent:  I was transported into my teenage self, smack dab in the middle of my grandparents house in Wisconsin.  Then, later in the day, passing a tree-filled-lot, I just as clearly saw, in my minds-eye another time and place in my life, filled with these trees and nests, birds calling out.  It started to feel, moment to moment, my brain jumping around to each scent-filled memory, that maybe I can't keep up with all this.

It occurred to me: there's a heck of a lot going on in there.  How can I possibly be expected to remember or access any-and-every-thing at a moment's notice?  One is supposed to remember dates past and future, appointments, names of hundreds of other people you encounter, books you've read, movies you've seen, letters you need to write, thank-yous that need to be called out, entries and deadlines, places you've been, websites you've read something interesting on and want to come back to, and on and on and on.

I used to get so annoyed when you'd meet someone, shake hands, give over your name and they immediately blurt out
ohhh! I'm terrible with names!  I have a terrible memory!

It means you don't have to remember my name;  you've created a disclaimer and you're off the hook for when I call out, "nice to meet you, susie!", you can say "oh, uh, yeah, you too!"
Gads, that's a pet peeve! 
Because I was taught that it's really important to remember and use someone's name.  

There was an older guy in high school that I had a huge crush on and one day he walked by me and said
hi, molly
It blew my mind.  ohmygosh.  Took my breath away.
Not only did he know my name, remember my name, he actually used my name!
When I told my older brother, J.,  about it, he told me he thought it was one of the most important things you could do for another person:  really acknowledge them.  Plus, everyone likes hearing their name said by someone they dig.

Even before the inspiring speech by J., I was just naturally good at remembering things:
Names, especially. 
Stories absolutely.
Lines, in a play or a poem, fully.
Dreams, in exquisite (and perhaps, for my parents and certain childhood friends, excruciating) detail.

And now, I have lost that particular talent, trait, that component of my brain. 
My memory can really be just... sad.
I cannot reel off times, dates, places, names to anything or anyone. 
I suppose it's age.  And maybe all that red wine. 
It should make me feel bad, but it doesn't.  

I keep detailed lists and I write everything down.  I come up with mnemonic devices and hope for the best all other times.  Some days I wonder how much room I'm supposed to make in there for upcoming thoughts, memories, and birthdays. 
Other days, I don't even remember how bad my memory is...


Gloria Freshley Art and Design said...

As always, a great post, Molly. And I loved the post about going home and the fort...very beautiful, and such a poignant photo of your parents. Thank you!

Anonymous said...

Oh, thank you Mol, so beautifully said, and I am so laughing with complete understanding! OX, Hol

Christina said...

That's an amazing photo.

Rose Brier Studio said...

Memories are such amazing things. I love mine with all it's quirkiness, but sometimes it fails me too. In high school I complained to my dad that people couldn't remember my name. He said, do you remember theirs? Brought me up short and made me want to be good at names.

Pie Lady Pat said...

Very enjoyable and thoughtful post! My dreams are so vivid I have to spend time the next day determining whether they were real events! Fun! Thanks....

lola said...

I relate to the "memory" loss also of aging. Sometimes I think our brains are like file cabinets and they can only hold so much until it's time to empty some of those folders in the form of dreams - and now I have lots of room for MORE memories! I love your posts...